During the holidays my husband and I were looking through a gift catalog, and we came across a set of wooden lawn dice for sale. And, they came in a cute bag. We thought that they looked like lots of fun. That is, until we saw the price tag of $60. What! $60 bucks for some wooden lawn dice that we could easily make! Heck no.
So, he set out to make some Lawn Dice for us. One of my favorite things about these dice is that we spent some time on them, but in the end, these dice cost us nothing. All of the parts were found in scraps and saved things or leftover materials from other projects. And they’re awesome to play with!
These are so cool and so much fun! We spent New Year’s Eve with his family playing Lawn Yahtzee. I printed score sheets that I found here. And, it isn’t just Yahtzee that you can play with these dice. Wikipedia has a huge list of dice games. I really want to play Phase 10 Dice. And there’s a game called Mia that sounds like fun. Most of the dice games take 5 or fewer dice, so we decided to make 2 sets of 5 dice. We were trying to decide if we wanted raw wood that was then stained, or if we wanted painted dice. So, we ended up making 1 set of each: stained wood and painted.
Here’s what we used and what we did…
Ingredients and Tools:
4×4 beam (for 5 dice you’ll need a length of beam 5 times as long as your dice plus a few inches for cuts)
sand paper (any grit you have will do; you just need to clean up the edges a little)
White paint (for painted ones)
black paint (for painted ones)
Black ink (for wood ones)
Verathane (for wood ones)
wine cork or other round thing to stamp with (but seriously, if you can’t figure out how to get a wine cork, invite me over for dinner. I’ll help you!)
miter saw to cut beam if you don’t have a miter saw, someone in your neighborhood probably has a miter saw, ask them to cut the pieces for you and you’ll make them a set.
cloth rag if verathaning
Here’s how we did it…
Measure the 4×4 beam; you’ll want the exact width so that it’s a cube. Wood measurements may be nominal terms (meaning that it doesn’t necessarily measure 4×4).
Make a squaring cut at the beginning of the 4×4.
Cut the lengths to match the widths. Cut each cube, then measure again. Don’t make all your marks first, because you’ll want to account for the cuts in your measurements.
Sand the edges of the cubes.
Cover the work surface with a tarp or work paper or even newspaper so you don’t get paint all over the work surface.
For the painted ones Dan used 2 coats of house paint. Semi-gloss or gloss is going to be better than flat paint if you’re going to be throwing these outside. The flat paint will get stained more quickly. He said he would’ve preferred to use Kilz primer over house paint, but since we didn’t want to go to the store to buy anything more, we used what we had. He painted 4 sides of the dice, and let that dry so that there was a place to hold the dice while the sides were wet. Then he painted the 2 other sides and let that dry. And repeated the whole process again: 4 sides, dry, 2 sides, dry. Sounds like it would take a bit of time, but the paint dried pretty quickly, so it was a quick process, and he kept his fingers clean and the dice free of finger prints.
For small projects like this, Dan doesn’t use a paint tray. He dips the end of the paint roller into the paint bucket and smears it around. Then he rolls over the wet paint to even it out. And, a paint roller is preferable to a paint brush so there’s no brush lines in the dice.
A note on the dots for the numbers: Dice do have a specific arrangement of numbers, so be sure to match your dots to a manufactured dice.
We experimented with several round things to stamp with. In the end, we found that the synthetic wine cork worked best. We used Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc for our cork! Then, stamp the dots on the sides. He free-handed the positions of the individual dots using acrylic paint. If the dot doesn’t come out perfectly, you can go back and fill in with additional paint using a small craft brush.
For the stained wood dice, he determined that ink worked better for the dots than paint. He used an old ink pad with black ink and stamped the synthetic wine cork onto the ink. The ink worked much better than paint directly on the wood. Stamp the ink dots on the raw wood, then use a cloth rag to verathane the cube.
That’s it! a few cuts, a little paint or verathane, and you have some fun Lawn Dice!